Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Reframe New Year’s Resolutions

by Tamara Martfeld

On January 1 many people make New Year’s Resolutions. By the end of February, if they have even lasted that long, the resolutions are abandoned because of failure to be perfect. This makes sense given that the normal resolution is formatted in some way to mean “I will be perfect at…” or “I will never again…”, doomed to failure from the start due to being unreasonable.

This year don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. Instead, create a goal or two for the year.

A goal for the year gives you a specific item to accomplish by a specific time. Properly done it is also reasonable and gives you the method or methods by which you will reach your goal. Most importantly, it gives you some wiggle room so that you are not failing by February.

For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds by December 31, 2013, by cutting down on any excessive eating and eating healthier food, having a dessert on a special occasion will not be failure. You can still have that dessert while cutting down in general and eating most food that is healthier than your current diet. Twenty pounds over a year’s time is reasonable and not being perfect in your eating habits will not prevent you from meeting that goal.

Another advantage to goals instead of resolutions is that they do not have to be done in only one year. Typically a New Year’s Resolution is something that is to be done in the given year and does not look beyond that time. With a goal it can be broken down into steps without losing the effect of positive change for the year. I suppose you could also break down a resolution, but I have never heard of anyone actually doing that.

For example, the goal of losing 20 pound by December 31, 2013, may be part of a larger goal to lose 50 pounds and live a healthier life in general. Breaking the large goal down into something reasonable and do-able provides a bigger chance that the goal will be accomplished.

Go for the goal instead of the resolution.

A tip I read several years ago to breaking habits, a common goal on New Year’s, is to add to the steps currently in the habit to stop the “addiction”. For example, if you want to stop drinking a given drink, go ahead and pour the drink or buy the drink, whatever is your habit, then add the step of tossing the drink before drinking. If smoking is the habit, add the step of breaking the cigarette or cigar before lighting it. If eating healthier is the goal, go ahead and get the unhealthy items, then toss them before eating them. You get the idea. Add a step which prevents you from taking the portion of the habit which your REALLY want to stop. Eventually you note the uselessness of the act and stop. It sounds wasteful, but if you have tried the traditional methods and they did not work, this is another option. Also, depending on the habit you are trying to break, there may not be any waste. You could also try going through the motions without the product to eliminate the waste.

Another tip I have read for items one buys is to go ahead and buy the item – at your piggy bank. Take the money which you plan to use to buy the cigar, cigarette, unhealthy food, drink, etc. and put it in your piggy bank. So your piggy bank rips you off by taking your money and not giving you the product. Take that as a sign that your bank is trying to help you beat your habit! The money is no longer available for purchasing the item and when you beat the habit you will have money for a nice treat!

Good luck in reaching whatever goals you have!

Have (or hope you had) a wonderful Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, December, Holiday, or whatever you celebrate, (or enjoy them all), and a fantastic New Year!